The first plastic was invented in an effort to find a substitute for ivory and save elephants from exploitation. John Wesley Hyatt created the first plastic in 1869 to win the $10,000 prize for whoever can provide a replacement for ivory which is from elephants’ tusks. This means that the creation of plastic originally aimed to protect animals from human’s destructive acts.

Unfortunately, the beautiful invention that was supposedly made to protect animals turned into the most harmful substance on the planet that kills wildlife.

Plastic has become the most common material used to make different products for: households, restaurants, medical, electrical, or industrial use. It is even used for disposable after a single-use items such as food packaging, straws, coffee cups, plastic bottles, and cleaning containers. As a result, plastic contributes a large volume of the solid waste in the world. It accumulates in landfill and oceans which ruins the natural beauty of the environment and poisons animals or trapped them until they starved to death.

This material is durable and long lasting some of which would even take a thousand years to decomposed. It is lightweight compared to other materials such as glass and metals making it convenient to use for packaging and shipping. Plastic is a practical choice in making vehicles for the same reason as it reduces fuel consumption. The material is also water and chemical resistant which makes them a good container for cleaning supplies. Moreover, it is an excellent electric insulator that allows us to safely use appliances and other electrical equipment safely.

Plastic is versatile giving endless reasons to tailor it for our different needs. However, like many other things that are not properly managed, it comes with disastrous disadvantages. As mentioned, plastic takes many years to decomposed. A single plastic grocery bag or a drinking bottle could even take ten to a hundred years to breakdown. That is why it easily piles up in landfill which is carried by winds and floods into the oceans.

Efforts have been, and are being, made to reduce the harmful effects of plastic in our environment and wildlife. Many countries banned the use of plastic bags, coffee cups, and straws to lessen plastic waste. Everyone is encouraged to practice reduce, reuse, and recycle in their households for the same reason. There are also organizations and inventors who continue to find ways to collect plastic waste in oceans.

Plastic not only ruin our environment and kill animals. It also has hazardous effects to humans as it releases harmful chemicals in the environment which we can be inhaled as it pollutes the air. The fragments from floating plastics in oceans also turned into microplastics which are ingested by marine animals that we consume.

Aside from inhaling chemicals from the air and ingesting microplastics from our food, plastic can harm us as we use it in our households. Plastic appliances and containers can leak chemicals into our foods and drinks. For instance, some food containers and electric kettles contain BPA, a harmful industrial chemical in plastics that can cause life-threatening diseases, it leaches into your food or drink when put on high temperature. This is why it is important to choose the right material when buying products.

We need to take a step back in using plastic as we recognize its harmful effects in the environment, wildlife, and our health. Despite its disastrous disadvantages, plastic is here to stay owing to its many benefits. An individual act would result in great changes if we all start caring. For many years we have been negligent in our waste management and abusively use of plastic and failure to dispose of them properly. Discipline and being responsible are key factors to lessen the damaging effects of plastic on our planet.

Author's Bio: 

Isabella Whitmore is a writer who enjoys spending her time with the nature. You can find some of her work at, an appliance website that offers safe and BPA-free electric kettles.